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Smartphones Can Increase Stress Levels, Study Says

Smartphones Cause Stress

First Posted: 01/12/2012 5:53 pm Updated: 01/13/2012 1:26 pm

What's got you feeling anxious? Is it work obligations? Family life? How about your smartphone?

A new study has found that smartphones can actually increase people's stress levels, HealthDay news reports.

The reason, as HealthDay explains, is that smartphones produce "a relentless need to immediately review and respond to each and every incoming message, alert or bing."

The stress gets so bad for some users that they actually begin to feel phantom vibrations, thinking their phone is buzzing when it isn't.

"Smart phone use is increasing at a rapid rate and we are likely to see an associated increase in stress from social networking," the study's leader, Richard Balding of the University of Worcester told the Telegraph

First Post notes that Tom Stafford, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield, believes smartphone "addiction" stems from the same place as gambling problems.

"Both slot machines and email follow something called a 'variable interval reinforcement schedule,' which has been established as the way to train in the strongest habits," Stafford told the Guardian in 2008. "This means that rather than reward an action every time it is performed, you reward it sometimes, but not in a predictable way. So with email, usually when I check it there is nothing interesting, but every so often there’s something wonderful – an invite out, or maybe some juicy gossip - and I get a reward."

Results from the study -- which was based on a survey of 100 university students, retail workers and public-sector employees -- are scheduled to be presented at a meeting of the British Psychological Society in Chester, England, on Thursday.

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Filed by Simon McCormack  |